How Long Does It Take For Enamel Paint To Dry? (It Depends)

Enamel paint can take a while to dry, but it differs depending on factors like temperature and humidity. 

If you mistake enamel paint as dry before it's ready, you could ruin all the hard work you've just done. 

With a bit of understanding of how long enamel paint takes to dry and what impacts its dry time, you can plan out your project – no mess-ups necessary. 

Enamel paint is a type of paint that is used to paint a variety of objects. It dries to a hard and glossy, glass-like finish, can hold its color well over time, is generally resistant to yellowing, and sticks well to various surfaces. 

Enamel paint is different from acrylic or latex paints because it's an oil-based paint, also known as solvent-based paint, while both latex and acrylic paints are water-based.

While latex and acrylic paints can be cleaned up with water, enamel paints and other solvent-based paints require special solvents to thin and clean them up. 

It also dries harder and is more durable than the other two options. Enamel paints are usually used for projects that require a lot of durability, such as painting a car or a bike or painting anything outdoors. 

It's a great option to use on metal surfaces, glass, plastic, wood, or walls. 

Enamel paint takes at least 24 hours to fully dry on a wood surface but may take up to 48 hours. It takes up to 2-3 days to dry on a metal surface. And if you're painting concrete with enamel paint, plan to give it up to 7 days to dry thoroughly. 

Brush Painting with Red Enamel

Factors Affecting Enamel Paint Drying Time

There are a few things that can affect how long enamel paint takes to dry. Things like temperature, humidity, and the thickness of the paint can all make drying time longer or shorter. It's important to know these factors so you can plan your project correctly. 

If you're experiencing problems with enamel paint not drying, there are a few things you can do to try and speed up the process. Some of the factors that can impact the drying time include: 

  • Temperature:
    The best temperature to apply enamel paint is between 50°F to 90°F. If it's too cold, the enamel paint won't dry properly and will take much longer than usual. If it's too hot, the enamel paint will dry too quickly and can result in a poor finish.
  • Humidity:
    High humidity levels can slow down the drying time. If you're painting in an area with high humidity, you might want to consider using a slower-drying enamel paint or adding a retarder to the paint to help it dry more slowly.
  • Ventilation:
    Good ventilation will help enamel paint dry faster.
  • The thickness of paint:
    The thicker the coat of enamel paint, the longer it will take to dry.

While you won't be able to control things like temperature and humidity, you can control how much ventilation the painted item has and how thickly you lay on the paint. 

Window Frame Painting with White Enamel

How Long Should You Let Enamel Paint Dry In Between Coats?

The enamel paint usually requires two coats for a proper finish. One coat might be a bit too thin, so for full coverage, opt for at least two. Any more, and you will notice drying time takes much longer, so keep that in mind. 

If possible, you should wait at least 12 hours after the first coat of enamel paint dries before applying the next coat. If not, wait until the paint is at least tacky enough to not be smudged by the touch of your finger or paintbrush. 

One reason it's important to wait for enamel or any other paint to dry fully between coats is that if you don't, the wet paint could smudge, and you'll have to start all over again. 

Additionally, if you apply the next coat of enamel paint before the previous one is dry, it will create a film on top of the wet paint and won't allow the paint to properly adhere or cure, resulting in a poor finish that won't last as long. 

How To Make The Enamel Paint Dry Faster? (Speeding Up Tips)

There are a few things you can do to help enamel and other paints dry faster. Some tips include: 

  • Make sure the temperature is between 50°F and 90°F 
  • Apply thin coats of enamel paint rather than thick ones 
  • Apply enamel paint in a well-ventilated area 
  • If you can, avoid painting in high humidity conditions 
  • Warm the surface before applying the coating 

First, pick the right time to paint with enamel. The winter isn't ideal, since temperatures tend to sit below 50º, and ventilation is key.

Applying enamel paint in a well-ventilated area will also help the paint to spread more evenly. Painting in a ventilated area is also recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

You don't want to paint a cold item - if you can warm it first, the paint will cure faster. 

Finally, if you're experiencing problems with enamel paint not drying, applying thin coats of enamel paint can help to speed up the process. 

Frequently Asked Enamel Paint Drying Questions 

Why does enamel paint stay sticky? 

Enamel paint can sometimes stay sticky. It could be because the environment has too much moisture in it or because the temperature is too low or too high.

It could also be related to a tin that wasn't mixed well before using or an unclean surface that you're painting on. 

How soon can you sand enamel paint? 

You should wait at least 24 hours before sanding enamel paint to ensure it's dry, though certain materials such as metal or concrete may take longer to dry. 

Does enamel paint need a primer? 

For enamel paint to adhere properly, it needs a primer. When purchasing supplies, look for an oil-based primer since the paint is also oil-based. Then, apply it first after cleaning the surface and before applying paint. 

Can you dry enamel paint with a hairdryer? 

If the enamel paint is still tacky after 24 hours, you can try using a hairdryer to speed up the drying process. Try to keep it between 50º-90º for best results. 


Enamel paint can take a while to dry, and many factors can affect how long it takes. If you're having problems with enamel paint not drying, there are a few things you can do to try and speed up the process.

Ensure proper ventilation and temperature, keep your coats thin, and wait long enough in-between coats for best results.